Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nature Photography Class

jonquil flower photo by mbgphoto

Photography classes are a great way to enhance your skills as a photographer and to learn some new techniques.  I try to take a new class or seminar each year. I just started a new 6 week class on nature photography and over the next weeks I will share with you some of the tips that I have taken away from the class.

In our first class the instructor gave us an introduction to the class.  He first described his take on what comprises nature photography.  For him it is wildlife, panoramic scenes, and basically anything outdoors that does not involve the 'hand of man".  In the introduction we were given some guidelines on photo ethics.  A good photographer will respect the earth and leave the area in the same condition he found it.  Here are some of the points the instructor made.
  • Be concerned for the safety and welfare of the subject
  • Do not dig up plants
  • Don't trim or snap plants
  • Do not expose nests or handle babies
  • Do not lie!  Make your shot be authentic.
We were told that it is important to know your subject.  You can do this by taking the time to research your subject before you start photographing and to take the time to observe your subject.  For instance if you are trying to photograph butterflies take the time to learn a little bit about their habits and it will be much easier for you to find them and get a great photograph.  Many parks and wildlife areas will have pamphlets about their plants and wildlife that will give you hints on the best times to observe and photograph them.

The instructor also stressed the importance of knowing your camera.  He suggested sitting around at home and just taking photos of anything using all different settings just to get to know all the features on your camera.  In fact we have a homework assignment to photograph a ruler to learn how close our camera can focus.  We will  be doing this using each of our lenses.  We will then photograph the ruler outside with a zoom lens using both the shortest and the longest focal length at a F8 setting.  This will show us the difference in the backgrounds with each focal length.  Taking the time to learn the camera in this manner will help us to use the right settings when we are out in the field.

I am really looking forward to our next class next week and next Thursday I will again give you some tips from the class.


  1. Oh, I love the recommended exercise! I purchased a new camera a few years ago and spent several days in my backyard photographing everything, including the bricks on my house, just trying to learn my camera. It definitely does take time. I love the idea with the ruler, inside and out. There isn't always a lot of time to capture that perfect shot in nature so knowing our camera is certainly essential.

  2. I always come away with a good tip reading these photography reviews! Interesting that your instructor rules out anything "that does not involve the 'hand of man'." Out west, there's plenty of abandoned objects, even ghost towns, that nature has reclaimed.

    1. Charli...I agree with you ...I guess everyone has their own definition.

  3. Great tips, as usual, for taking good quality photographs. I capture butterflies with my cell camera on my walks with my dog Tidbit and hopefully will have another summer to do that with her.

  4. I always learn so much from your photography tips, Mary Beth. I've posed my crocheted critters with flowers before, but hadn't thought to just take pictures of the flowers themselves. Will have to give that a try next. :)

  5. It's like getting a free class when you share these tips. Appreciate growing right alongside you. Even after all these years, there are so many things I do not know about my cameras. I use so many automatic settings when I could very well branch out and get more daring.


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